Crystal Palace
Selhurst Park




Ground No. 9 (return visit)
Visited – Saturday 23rd February 2008
Result – Crystal Palace 0-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition – Coca-Cola Championship
Attendance – 15,679

One of the more contentious rules of the 92 club is that for a ground to count then you must have visited it for a home game of the resident club, thus ruling out visits for internationals, neutral games or any match where another club has used the stadium as their home ground. Many just ignore the rule, but being somewhat of a pedant, then I’d thus far stuck to the rules and hadn’t counted my visit to Selhurst Park back in 1998 when Wolves took 10,000 fans down to South London for an FA Cup 5th Round tie with Wimbledon. With this in mind I’d been meaning to visit it again for quite a while, but thanks to high ticket prices, had been putting it off for a couple of seasons, but now that I’d got down to the last four of the 92, it was time to bite the bullet and pay the ridiculous price of £30 to watch second division football, a price that I’d previously said was a barrier that I’d stop at on principal (it’s bad enough for top flight football, never mind the second rate rubbish served up in the Championship).

Anyway. When the day came around, I made my way down to London early, spending some time in the centre before catching a train to Selhurst station, walking the short distance down to the ground. After reaching Holmesdale Road, I was glad to see that whilst I remembered little bits, it was virtually like visiting the ground for the first time. The Holmesdale Road Stand has a classic exterior reminiscent of the Holte End at Villa Park, yet is fairly modern, having been built in the mid-90’s. The Arthur Wait Stand from the outside is little more than a wall with turnstiles in, the stand hidden within thanks to the way the ground is set into a hillside. You can’t see anything of the Whitehorse Lane Stand due to flats between it and the road, whilst the Leitch designed Main Stand is visible only in parts thanks to later, more modern buildings attached. One point of note on the Main Stand was a mural of past players, which looks quite good, adding a splice of colour.

Having taken a few pictures and visited the club shop, I walked the short distance to the ‘Victory Club’ to meet a few friends as well as a couple of Palace fans, having a few drinks before making our way back to the ground, getting in just for the kick-off.

We were seated in the Arthur Wait Stand, which was a classic 60’s design, now showing its age with a dark, gloomy interior, ageing facilities and views restricted by supporting pillars. These days it consists of a single tier of seating, although with wooden seats at the back, and new plastic ones at the front, then it’s easy to tell that there used to be two separate tiers with terracing at the front prior to the Taylor Report. To our right was the Whitehorse Lane Stand at the far end of the ground, featuring a single tier of seating with two rows of executive boxes above, vaguely similar to the more famous Clock End at Highbury. Opposite us was the Main Stand, again a single tier of seating covered by a pitched roof, and finally to our left was the Holmesdale Road Stand, a two-tiered stand with an almost barrel like roof, covering fans below. Standing tall, it was an impressive structure, and would grace any ground in the country.

When the game got underway, it didn’t take long for us to all wish it hadn’t! Palace had been doing well in the league recently, and our form had been mixed, so we weren’t feeling positive, but it soon became apparent that they were as bad as we are! Other than a headed effort from Jody Craddock, we had nothing to shout about in the first half, with Palace struggling to register any shots on goal.

The second half was no better, and just as most fans had started to cry through boredom, Michael Gray got a rush of blood to his head and out of the blue scored the goal of the season. It was in the 76th minute and most had resigned themselves to the game petering out to a 0-0 draw, but after receiving the ball out right, Gray cut in and hit it from all of 25 yards, curling straight into the top corner. It was as good a goal as you’ll see this season, a real cracker. We wrapped it up a little later when from a long punt upfield, Kevin Kyle bullied his way past two defenders and lobbed the keeper from just inside the area to make it 2-0, a classic smash and grab away performance. It could have been 3-0 but for a miss from Darren Potter late on, but the game was marred when goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey needed escorting from the pitch after a collision which resulted in him needing to go to hospital, but it stayed 2-0 and we held on for the win.

After the game, we made out way back to the same bar for a quick drink before going our separate ways, with me getting home fairly late thanks to train delays.

Overall though, it had been a good day, nice to see us win for a change (I’m somewhat of a curse to Wolves away from home!), especially when the victory was made sweeter by not really deserving it. As for the ground, it’s a fantastically unique place to visit with plenty of character, made better by it’s setting with a steep hill rising from one end to the other. It was good that I didn’t really remember all that much about it, as it made it feel like a new ground to visit, as opposed revisiting somewhere that before the trip I felt I needed to visit more than wanted to. Ticket prices aside, then it is well worth making the trip to, and is the perfect antidote to the growing number of identikit bowls popping up around the country.






Welcome to Selhurst!


Rear of the Arthur Wait Stand


Rear of the Holmesdale Road Stand


Rear of the Holmesdale Road Stand


Rear of the Main Stand


Mural on the Main Stand


Rear of the Main Stand


The Club Shop


The Holmesdale Road Stand


The Main Stand


The Whitehorse Lane Stand


The Whitehorse Lane Stand


The Main Stand


The Holmesdale Road Stand






 

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